Swipe Right on Retail ECommerce: App Store Fashion

December 17, 2021
6 minute read

Abigail Shipps

Content Marketer
Abigail is a creative well-versed in writing and developing digital content. She enjoys exploring the relationship between modern social influence and the eCommerce landscape, as well as the increased focus on transparency and tactility with digitally native brands.
"Customers’ closets are beginning to mirror the coming and going nature of fashion houses– every season there is a new collection, and while brand staples remain, special seasonal items are there and gone in the blink of an eye."

Swipe Right on Retail ECommerce: App Store Fashion

In a world of growing social influence and evolving taste in technology, retail eCommerce has seen a drastic shift in operations. Brick and mortar used to be unparalleled in experience; however with new UX web design, Gen Z at the helm, and with social apps like TikTok and Instagram shifting towards commerce, retail eCommerce is spreading out into different shapes and sizes of accessibility. Not only can you shop on your computer, but with the portable convenience of a smartphone, shopping on-the-go is the new standard of the retail landscape. 

In addition to taking many shapes, retail has gone through a reckoning– with today’s customers, transparency and sustainability are top of mind. Secondhand and thrift sales have increased. Transparency in regards to the manufacturing and distribution of a brand’s materials is more public than ever before. Luxury items are now more accessible with finance management tools such as Afterpay. Additionally, brands aim to further connect with their customers by establishing an open presence on social platforms. 

There’s an App for That

With all of the different types of retailers out on the market, how could they all possibly exist in one place? While they might all have an account on social media, many platforms are spread out on their websites, and, most notably– on apps. 

As we’ve heard many times in the modern digital age: there’s an app for that. When you’re on the go, or where mobile website versions simply aren’t enough, apps offer a unique experience that integrates retail eCom into your everyday app rotation (we all have one, don’t even try to deny it). Mobile apps allow for increased customer engagement through functions specific to apps, phone functionalities such as notifications and camera access, as well as a personalized experience with in-app settings. 

There’s an app for the lux, the green, and the social, and all are redefining what it means to shop, save the planet, and be influenced:

The Social

From including top design houses to streamlining checkout with just one click, THE YES has made personalized shopping fun by emulating the simple browsing feature of social networking apps. With the surge of online sales, and an increasing number of eyes on social media apps, it is apparent that a successful app design emulates connectivity, personalization, and ease of use; THE YES has successfully implemented the smart technology of today’s digital landscape with the ultimate 2020 quarantine pastime, online shopping

For the overwhelmed shopper who wants a personal shopper, but also not because they want to curate their own collection of finds: THE YES is the answer. The app is structured similar to a dating app, where you can click “yes” or “no” to certain clothing items. With each response, the app gets smarter– THE YES allows you to select a few brands to start with, and suggests brands as you go through their curated picks. 

Similar to The Lobby, fashion app LikeToKnowIt harnesses the power of content creators and builds their app around influencers’ product picks for customers to browse through. Co-founder Amber Venz Box is no stranger to social influence– in 2011, along with her co-founder Baxter Box, she began rewardStyle, a monetization platform for “influencer innovation.” Since then rewardStyle has grown into one of the largest influencer platforms to date, and it paved the way for LikeToKnowIt to hit the app store for the general public to utilize. 

Not only can users browse through homegoods and clothing, but they can also discover new influencers while they’re curating collections and buying their next wardrobe staple. In this way, content creators and retail engage in a digital symbiotic relationship– it’s a social/retail win-win, and perhaps a marker for the new generation of influencer and retail eCommerce crossover. 

The Sustainable

With the slow-fashion movement at the forefront of the retail industry, apps that make supporting the planet through fashion are on the rise. Besides resale apps such as Poshmark and Depop, subscription apps are on a mission to eliminate fast fashion by facilitating a service of borrowing. Instead of committing to purchasing a designer bag or nice sweater, these apps allow you to try them on before or instead of buying– as Tulerie, notes, “It’s ok to have closet envy. We’re here to help you deal with it.” 

Tulerie is a platform where users can shop, borrow, and lend designer items to other users. Their site dives into their commitment to sustainability, and explains the effect of linear, unsustainable, versus circular, sustainable, fashion practices. Similarly, By Rotation is a UK based app that offers designer items at a fraction of the price, and allows for users and rotators to rent and borrow clothing; as thier saying goes, “what’s mine is yours.” With an estimated 30% of clothing in closets sitting unworn, By Rotation encourages users to rescue clothing from textile waste by taking the leap to share and borrow clothes, ultimately cultivating a new retail culture. 

Fashion rental subscription service Nuuly takes trying before buying to the next level: the app allows you to choose 6 items each month to rent. Send all of the items back, or if you find a piece you love, keep and buy it. The rental app was started by Urban Outfitters, and also includes clothing from its partner private labels, Anthropologie and Free People. Nuuly helps eliminate the unsure commitment to a clothing item, the missed return deadline, and ultimately a sunk cost.

The Luxury

Perhaps one of the most well-known luxury fashion apps out there now is Rent the Runway. The platform is one of the original fashion rental apps, rising in popularity with its vast selection of clothes for special occasions. The app attempted to expand into brick and mortar retail stores, however with the COVID-19 pandemic, made the decision to close all but the New York City drop off location. Members can choose to subscribe to a weekly or monthly subscription plan, or users can choose a one-time rental option. 

Another luxury app that has stood the test of time is The Real Real: an authenticated luxury consignment platform. The app combines the sustainable fashion practices promoted by resale apps, with a luxury twist. Similar to Rent the Runway, The Real Real expanded beyond their app into brick and mortar stores in New York, including a flagship store, a consignment office, and a styling service. 

App Store, but Make it Fashion

With the dawn of these new fashion apps, the way people wear and buy their clothing is changing. No longer are customers simply going to the mall and buying a new dress– users now either rent clothes for everyday or special occasions, purchase items secondhand, and subscribe to services that turn a user’s closet into an ever-changing clothing rack. In a sense, customers’ closets are beginning to mirror the coming and going nature of fashion houses– every season there is a new collection, and while brand staples remain, special seasonal items are there and gone in the blink of an eye. 

App-store retail is perhaps one of the most universally accessible avenues for fashion, save social media platforms like Instagram, whose newly updated homepage includes a shopping icon. Apps like The Real Real, THE YES, and By Rotation are taking their seat next to social media and tool apps alike, establishing themselves as an essential part of millions of smartphone users. The hand-held user experience allows for customers to essentially carry a mall in their back pocket.

While brick and mortar might not be entirely doomed, the retail eCom user experience has certainly extended beyond desktops and onto mobile devices– with the seemingly unlimited possibilities of a developing UX industry, who’s to say what platform will come next.

"Customers’ closets are beginning to mirror the coming and going nature of fashion houses– every season there is a new collection, and while brand staples remain, special seasonal items are there and gone in the blink of an eye."

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